It’s late spring, and soon, the battle will begin once more.
I’ll gather together my weapons again, and stand watch, waiting for the enemy to arrive.
And they will.
They always do.
Small and black, they swarm through whatever crevice they can find into the house, no matter how tiny.
Then … they spread. Everywhere. Although they are not army ants, they are absolutely an army.
And we are at war.
It is said that an army marches on its stomach, and the ants definitely seek food, preferably in large quantities, easy to pick from. If they were happy with just taking crumbs from the floor and carrying them away, I think that we could come to an agreement.
Instead, they ignore the crumbs and head unerringly towards whatever large food source they can sense, wherever it may be.
We first noticed them when they invaded our kitchen counters, seeking our sugar container no doubt, or whatever we’d spilled and not cleaned up nearly as well as we thought. A river of black somehow arriving through a barely perceptible crack in the window casing, branching out and scurrying towards the various foodstuffs.
The invasion happened in the night, and by morning the ant forces were widespread. We fought back with kitchen cleaner and paper towels, moving the canisters of flour and sugar into the pantry on the other side of the room.
Somehow, we managed to save the coffee. Thank goodness.
The occasional ant straggler remained, staggering back to hiding, but by the time we left for work that day, we thought the battle won.
How foolish we were.
The next morning, they had returned in force, and this time, attacked along a new route as well, coming from under the dishwasher.
I too, however, had a new plan of attack- a weapon I deployed with astonishing efficiency.
A lint roller picks up ants just as easily as it picks up cat hair. A little easier, actually.
Within 10 minutes, the lint roller was black with ants and the latest invasion was gone.
We arranged that day for an exterminator, who visits us every other month now. The ants still fight back, however, and we must remain ever vigilant.
Once, they found a route through a different kitchen window, and forged a path all the way across the floor to the pantry, under the door, and up to the shelf that stores a bottle of honey. The floorway path utilized one of the black lines between the tile, and if it hadn’t been for a craving for honey one evening, we may have never known they’d invaded once more.
We’ve found them trying to return to the pantry more than once. They frequently try to come through the original window as well, usually every spring. At least one nest was eradicated beneath that window, and it’s entirely possible it extended further into the sandy soil than the exterminator was able to follow.
I’ve found ants in my office more than once. One of the discoveries happened while I was typing and a number decided to swarm from under my desk and up my arm.
To this day, my skin twitches when I think of it. I don’t know what the ants hoped to gain when they did it; my only explanation is psychological warfare.
Successful psychological warfare.
This year, the initial exploratory invasions have begun, even though the exterminator has been out once already. It seems now the ants have developed a taste for cat food. One of the bowls was discovered by them early on, and was moved into my bathroom for safekeeping, hopefully out of reach.
Just days ago, the ants discovered and attacked a second bowl, coming up from the corner where the wall trim meets on the floor. Those bowls have also been relocated, and the corner thoroughly cleaned.
The occasional ant still comes out and searches around, however.
I can’t blame them, I suppose. The ants are only doing what they’re driven to by nature, seeking out food and ignoring completely that it’s owned by me and I don’t want to share. For all I know, our house was built on top of their own, a massive ant hill descending for miles beneath us. Somewhere, deep below, there’s an enormous ant queen shrieking her orders to her ant minions, demanding my honey.
(I’m actually not very sympathetic at all. It’s still my honey. I’m not digging into the sand to steal their food.)
Further proving their indomitable drive and disturbing cleverosity, by attacking the cat dishes, they’ve attacked locations we cannot put out poison, for fear for the pets’ safety.
(We thought about putting down traps, but Wilfred is a little odd, and likes to eat plastic.)
This latest battle is becoming a game of cat-and-mouse (ant-and-anteater?) where the bowls will be moved and the locations thoroughly cleaned (hopefully) of any ant-homing-chemtrails, then waiting until the inevitable discovery of the new location of the food, and moving on once again.
So the fight goes on. The cold of the winter months was only a brief respite, albeit a welcome one. I wearily arm myself once again, with twitching skin and a frantic eye towards black specks on the kitchen counters, especially those that move.
(An accidental spill of some coffee grounds one morning by my half-awake roommate made for some excitement a little later when I stumbled in myself. Panic is not an acceptable alarm clock!)
This war may never be won, nor may the battles ever end. The ants have sheer numbers on their side, and they’re also small, quick, and tenaciously hungry.
I’m full of burning hatred.
Plus, I have a lint roller, and I’m not afraid to use it.
Your move, ant kingdom.